Tim and I really like the most basic red tomato sauce on spaghetti or rotini topped with a bit of pecorino romano or parmesan. Good pasta sauce is a rather rare find in the supermarket, its either really expensive per jar, or not very good in the flavour profile. I decided that I would at least try to make my own pasta sauce and looked to the foremost Italian chef on the cooking scene today (at least he is in my book) Mario Batali. I found his “basic tomato sauce” recipe, got pretty comfortable with it, and began to make delicious variations, canning and sharing them along the way.
Basic Italian Tomato Sauce: Total Time: 45 minutes: Active Time: 15 minutes: Yields 6 cups
- 2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil (evoo)
- 1 medium yellow or Spanish onion, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- 1 medium carrot, peeled and sliced*
- 3 tbsp. fresh thyme OR 1 tbsp. dried thyme**
- 2 28 oz. cans whole tomatoes
- sea salt
- Heat evoo in large sauce pan over medium heat and sauté the onion and garlic until translucent- not browning ~8 minutes.
- Stir in the carrot and herb(s) and sauté until the carrot has softened a bit ~ 5 minutes.
- Finally, add both cans of tomatoes and stir. Bring to boil, reduce to simmer, simmer for 30 minutes. I then pureé my sauce with an immersion blender, but this step is not necessary, especially if you like chunky sauce. However, to can the sauce, I prefer to pureé because it makes bubbles within the sauce a lot less likely.
If you are going to use the sauce within the next week you may store it in a sterile jar/container, or you could freeze the sauce for up to six months. Since I buy 6.5 pound cans of whole tomatoes, I make a lot of sauce in one day- so I use a fool-proof canning method to store my sauce.
Canning Method: In a large stock pot with a metal rack on the bottom, fill with water until close to the rack. Place jars, rings and canning tops on rack and bring the water to boil with the lid on the pot. Allow to boil for 10 minutes to sterilize the canning materials. In a separate stock pot, bring enough water to boil to cover your jars. Fill the jars with the sauce, leaving an inch of head room at the top. Place the lid and ring on and twist tight. With canning tongs, place the jars into the canning pot, making sure that they don’t touch each other. Boil for 15 minutes and remove from canning pot. The jars should vacuum seal within the next twenty-four hours.
* If you would like to add 1/2 stalk of chopped celery in with the carrot, you certainly may. I only add the celery when I have it in my fridge and I have more than I need for that week’s menu. If I don’t use it in pasta sauce I generally will put a little peanut butter and currants in the center for a clean eating [CE] snack.
** Here is where you can get creative and add your own innovative twists on a very basic pasta sauce. Thus far, I have made:
- Basic Thyme
- Basil-Ginger (made with white wine for acidity and sweetness)
- Three Cheese (with gouda, parmesan and my husbands homemade cheese that performed very much like a cojita)
- Tumeric and Herbes de Provençal
- Sweet and Spicy (with brown sugar and chiles de arbol)
- The Special One (our favourite discovery thus far- the onions and garlic were caramelize, fennel and Chinese five spice)
- Backyard Sage Bay (my steak rub plus sage and bayleaf- which was removed before it was pureéd)
- Umami (the most adventurous with black raspberry strained pureé, vanilla, sautéed morel mushrooms, red pepper flake, thyme, lemon zest and juice and oolong tea)
You can be very creative, but you must taste along the way so that you are able to correct to your taste.